RP architects define the landscape of natural materials | RP architects

Originality and rawness of natural materials is ingrained and lived by in Alamu Nilayam, a house nestled in Puducherry.

Alamu Nilayam, a house with the focus to have natural energy balance and use of natural materials. The house was planned in such a way it is connected to the outside nature from inside.

Editor’s Note: The raw, earthy facade of Alamu Nilayam in Puducherry is a testament to the symbiotic relationship between built form and nature. The CSEB form strips it down to its true essence—without masquerades or touch-ups—becoming a gateway for natural forces to flow through. The colour oxides for the organic interior spaces soothe the eyes and go seamlessly with the theme. – Gopika Pramod

RP architects define the landscape of natural materials | RP Architects

The entire house design has been done to have proper North-South and East-West natural ventilation. East and North sides have large windows till the top of the ceiling, to let out the hot air which builds up inside the house. Outside and South windows recessed to avoid direct heat into the house and creates a shading device. The western windows are thin long windows which avoid heat from coming in and will let the cool breeze into the house. 

When we enter the house, the house has a small garden and entrance thinnai in grey oxide with a large tall welcoming Kalimaruthu door – reclaimed wood door. This tall door catches everyone’s eyes at first sight. The entrance door leads to a small foyer with a CSEB (Compressed stabilized earth brick) mural and a Ganesha reflection light and natural diffused light from the north window. 

The interiors of the house are done as part of the main house civil construction with natural stone – cuddapah shelf cupboards with simple plywood painted doors. There are inbuilt work tables in each room which avoid any need for additional furniture. Warm lights are used predominantly in the house to have a calm peaceful ambience even during the night. There is a semi-covered thinnai area (sitting) on the first floor which hosts formal and informal gatherings, an extension of the open terrace. 

The living room has full eastside windows, which lets in early morning sun into the entire house and even lights up the puja space every morning. There is a garden view from the living which gives the openness feeling and connects the users with the nature and outdoor environment.

The flooring of the entire house is done with non-industrial material. Only natural stones like yellow tandur, green tandur and black cuddapah are used. The main heavy use areas like the foyer, living, kitchen and utility are done with rough finish stones to give good grip while walking and for the wet areas like bathrooms, outdoors spaces, staircases etc. The rooms are done with natural hand polished stones.

This space leads into the living cum dining space. There is a small covered courtyard, an extension from the living, when the tall glass doors are opened, this space becomes part of the living and can host functions and also gives a cozy space with natural Karunkal – Black natural stone wall.

The kitchen is a semi-open kitchen with a breakfast counter. The utility area next to the kitchen is again a covered courtyard, a connection to the kitchen garden and backyard garden. 

All the woodwork of the house is done with 100% reclaimed wood, old Kalimaruthu wood. The doors have a ventilator at the top, to have constant cross ventilation in the rooms. Windows have both mosquito mesh doors and glass doors. All the windows go till the top of the ceiling to evacuate the hot air from inside and to let in the cool air from below.

The walls are made of natural materials like CSEB (Compressed stabilized earth brick), especially the west and south side to avoid the heat penetration through walls. Natural Karunkal- random stone walls cover courtyards walls and compound walls. Rest of the walls are built with fired brick and finished with colour oxides and painting is completely avoided. 

The first floor has a small office space which can be used as a guest bedroom also when needed, with a pantry space and a bathroom. This space opens up into a large open terrace. 

The master bedroom, the grandma’s bedroom and daughter’s bedroom are placed in the western side of the house. To avoid the heat from the west, high density CSEB bricks are placed in a pattern to cut out the heat and at the same time greet one with a beautiful interior feature wall.

All the rooms have attached bathrooms, with Oxide walls, inbuilt wash basins with oxide finishes and rough natural stone flooring- for anti-skid property and eco-friendly.

The house roofs have two types of insulation. The first floor open terrace has Aerocon based insulation with natural stone on the top. The second floor terrace has cool roof tiles. Both cut out the heat penetration from the ceiling.

The house is planned for the future as well. The entire rainwater which falls off the plot has been channelized and the construction bore well has been converted into a rainwater harvesting tank and this water is sent into it, through a filtration tank. The solar panel provision on the second floor terrace, and EV vehicle charging points in the parking have also been provided. 

The house gives the user a minimalistic, low embodied energy, eco-friendly and a sustainable environment to live in the town of Puducherry. 

Fact File

Firm Name : RP Architects

Project Name : Alamu Nilayam

Principal Architect: Ramya Prasad, RP Architects

Location: Abirami nagar, Reddiyarpalam, Puducherry

Plot size: 40’ x 60’

Project Size: 2700 sqft

Project Cost: 85 Lakhs rupees

Entrance: East facing

Photography: Aswin Yegappan SP, Ramya Prasad

Firm’s Website Link: RP Architects

Firm’s Instagram Link: RP Architects

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